Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Knitting, decoupage and Anzac biscuits

Anne, my backtack4 swap partner in Denmark, has received her parcel of backtack goodies, and so I can finally reveal some of the crafting that's been occupying me over the last month or so. As I've blogged before, the theme of backtack4 was gold (something that glitters), frankincense (something to delight the senses of taste or smell) and myrrh (a gift to give pleasure).

My myrrh gift to give pleasure was knitted. It's the inelegantly named Swiss Cheese Scarf by the inspirational Winnie Shih.

LynS bt4 - myrrh

For those with access to Ravelry, the free pattern can be downloaded. It's a simple, symmetrical, fun design. I think it's also very elegant. Lots of garter stitch (why not?), and lots of casting on and casting off. Like most people who've knitted this design, I gradually refined the process of knitting up the small loops caused by the casting on into subsequent rows. I knitted it with wool to which I've developed a passionate attachment - Rowan scottish tweed 4 ply in the perfect shade of grey. It doesn't result in the softest scarf in the world, but it has a slightly felted texture and holds its sculptural shape beautifully. My partner Anne says she likes it and commented cryptically that we have very similar taste in scarves, so I'm delightedly anticipating my parcel from her.

For my 'something that glitters', I decoupaged two bangles.

LynS bt4 - gold

I began with wooden bangles, painted them black and applied cut-paper designs, mainly in gold. I then varnished them (about 35 thin coats), sanded several times, and finished them with a dull beeswax polish. I enjoyed making them - even with the tyranny of fitting in the three coats of varnish I needed to apply each day to finish the project in time. It was interesting to return after several years absence to a craft I practised consistently and passionately for a significant period of time. I think I'll do some more.

I found it most difficult to decide what to do for frankincense - something that appeals to the sense of taste or smell. Eventually, I applied the very reliable rule that says when in doubt, do something simple, and made Anzac biscuits, using my grand-mother's tattered recipe. I thought that if they were robust enough to survive the lengthy trip by sea to reach Anzac soldiers in the first world war (which is the tale of their origin), then they could survive the modern-day trip by air to Denmark.

LynS bt4

I have a still unsorted and disorganised box of my mother's and grandmother's recipes that I acquired after my mother's death. Most of my grand-mother's recipes are for baking - cakes, biscuits, slices, scones. My grandparents had a farm where 8 to 10 family members lived, and this number was augmented by another dozen or so people at shearing or harvesting times. 'The men' ate 5 meals a day - breakfast, morning tea, dinner, afternoon tea, and tea. My grandmother's life, and my mother's when she lived on the farm, was a constant routine of cooking and cleaning up. As a result, the recipes are simple and straight-forward. They use easily available and few ingredients and are virtually fail-safe, but every time I make something using one of the recipes, they are welcomed. The Anzac biscuits belong to this tradition.


jp said...

I sorted through documented and bound the recipe's of both my grandmother and mother. I sent copies to all the grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) who wanted them.

My grandmother grew up on a farm similar to the one you describe and the recipes are mostly cakes, biscuits and slices.

I must update it to digital format.

M-H said...

What lovely gifts. And you are very lucky to have the recipes. My father outlived my mother by several years and he stubbornly refused help with housework. After his death we discovered her recipe books and her old exercise book, with hand-written recipes and notes and stuck-in newspaper clippings, had been completely destroyed by silverfish. I so regret we hadn't rescued it earlier. I'll never be able to recreate the baking - nothing I make is ever exactly the same. I particularly miss her apple crumble and a slice which had apricot jam and a choco-coconut filing - tooth-achingly sweet but so delicious.

Rose Red said...

Love all of these gifts. The scarf is great - I really like the idea of making it in a tweedy yarn.

My mum had a similar farm life - with her dad and 7 (yes, seven!) brothers to cook, wash and clean for - all of their shirts ironed with the old flat irons, even in summer - imagine the heat!

kirsten said...

wow! i am so impressed you knitted the swiss cheese scarf and then GAVE IT AWAY! phew.

kirsten said...

sorry - that last comment was from me:

kirsten @